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Survival Knife or Hatchet – Which Is Better

Okay, I’m going to come clean. I get a huge laugh out of many of the so called ‘Survival Knife Reviews’ on YouTube. I watch a lot of these and realize that the person doing the review has probably never, or very rarely, used a knife in either a Camping or Survival situation. Well, that’s not fair, most of us have never been in a true survival situation where we had to depend on our blades for our life. But in reality, most of us who buy survival knives do so to take them camping with us or out hiking around the woods.

But a lot of these survival knife reviews are just utterly ridiculous and really shows how naive some so called knife experts really are. I also see the question of “Which is better, a hatchet or survival knife?”

Let’s take the debate about whether or not one should carry a hatchet on a hiking/camping trip or a survival knife. I could make this debate very short and simply point out the fact that the best survival knife out there isn’t as good as the cheapest hatchet. Period. End of debate.

But, that would be very boring wouldn’t it, although it is true. I have a Fallkniven H1. (which I’ll get around to doing a review on one of these days) This knife is considered by many to be the best survival knife known to man. I’ll beg to differ, but that’s a conversation for a later time. Would I trade my $20 1 3/4 pound head hatchet for the Fallkniven in a survival situation. Hell no!

I get a kick out of all the reviewers who think batoning is the true test of a survival knife. It just isn’t so and the reason you see so many doing it is because there isn’t many other things you can do in a knife review (realistically) that is attention grabbing. For those who don’t know what batoning is, it’s basically splitting wood. And except for the smallest saplings, a hatchet will do the job much better and quicker than a survival knife!

How about cutting trees down? George Washington didn’t use a long survival knife to chop the Cherry tree down, he used a hatchet! A survival knife may be quicker on saplings up to a 1/2 inch, anything above that and a hatchet will be quicker and safer.

The same goes for pounding stakes into the ground. Yeah, you can do it with a survival knife and rock, but a hatchet will get the job done quicker and safer.

In fact, other than cutting cordage, small limbs or other things of that sort, there’s not much a survival knife can do that a hatchet can’t do better.

What about defense? Well, if you’re asking me which one I would choose if backed into a corner, a hatchet or a big knife, I think either one would suffice just fine. Remember, there was a reason that the Indians and Frontiersmen chose to carry tomahawks. That compact steel head of the hatchet can do a lot more damage that a single knife. In fact, the mass weight of the hatchet head that causes it to be better than a knife at chopping also makes it a formidable weapon!

But having the slicing and jabbing ability makes a large knife as equal as a hatchet in the self defense role. But in reality, if I am cornered, I’ll have a surprise for the attackers that do not include a knife or hatchet ;)

Does this mean I leave my knives at home when I go camping or hiking. Of course not. I’d sooner leave my pack at home! But depending on where I plan on going and how long I plan on staying out, it’s a good chances that you’ll find me with a hatchet.

Don’t take this article the wrong way either. I love my knives. I love the outdoors. But the older I get, the less sensationalism I need in the outdoors. I just want to get the damn wood cut. And the fastest and safest way to do that, is with a hatchet. Unless you have a pocket chainsaw handy!

I’m sure this will not end the ‘Which is better, a hatchet or survival knife’ debate, but hopefully you’ll stand back and have a honest look at carrying a hatchet.